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Sulli: K-pop star's death calls for pouring out grief and cyber-bullying questions

These acts won 25-year-old K-pop singer Sulli praise – but also made her the subject of harsh online criticism.
Now, a day after her apparent suicide, her death has sparked an outpouring of grief and calls to limit the cyber-bullying stars may be subject to when they stray beyond the traditional K-pop industry norms.

The body of the former member of the f (x) girl group was discovered by her boss at her house in Sujeong-gu, Seongnam, south of the capital Seoul, on Monday afternoon local time, police told CNN. In a statement Tuesday, Sulli's agency SM Entertainment said the star's family planned a private funeral, adding that relatives were "saddened by this unexpectedly sad news."

According to Seongnam Sujeong police, a post mortem could be carried out as early as Wednesday. News of her death had an immediate impact in the industry, with other SM Entertainment groups Super Junior and SuperM, as well as former f (x) bandmate Amber Liu all announcing that they would cancel upcoming events. [19659002]

From being sincere about their own relationships – unusual in the world of K-pop, where stars are encouraged to silence romance – to being openly pro-choice and advocates for the "release nipple" movement, Sulli was known to undermine expectations of female K-pop stars.

But her views often made her a target for online trolls, especially by anti-feminists, said CedarBough Saeji, an expert on Korean culture and society at the University of British Columbia.

"She was brave," Saeji said on Tuesday. "The fact that Sulli repeatedly did things that misogynists didn't like and refused to apologize is how she really stood out."

Saeji said that in South Korea, K-pop stars were expected to apologize publicly when they failed to meet the high – and sometimes unrealistic – standards expected by the industry. But Sulli refused to change, even appearing in a TV show where K-pop stars discussed the challenges of negative comments online.

"That society would criticize her so strongly just for showing individuality in a way that did not exactly conform to Korean social norms, it is just so incredibly sad," Saeji said.

  Singer Sulli attends Tory Burch spring 2016 in Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts on September 15, 2015 in New York City.

"I am so sorry that she did not have people who supported her in the same way that she supported – in her own cruel way – equality between women and men Korea. She was also a voice and advocate for major issues in Korean society. "

As of Tuesday, three petitions had been filed on the Blue House production page, all demanding stricter rules for cyber bullying.

South Korea's entertainment industry has become one of the country's largest exports in the last decade. But K-pop stars – who often train for several years before they make their debut – subjected to intense pressure, which has been linked to a mental health crisis in the industry.

K-pop megastar Jonghyun, whose real name was Kim Jong-hyun, took his own life in Seoul in December 2017. And singer and actress Goo Hara, former part of the girl band Kara, apologized to fans after being found unconscious at home in May 2019.

The singer had posted the word "Goodbye" to her Instagram account, which gets a flood of comments from concerned fans.

How to get help: In the United States, call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. International al Association for Suicide Prevention and Befrienders Worldwide also provide contact information for crisis centers around the world.

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